Designed Delight

July 14, 2012

Is the purpose of creating great UI to make users feel good, or is it to accomplish tasks expectedly?

When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, people in the audience audibly reacted to different features and apps. When he performed the first “slide to unlock,” everyone gasped. Steve even unlocked the phone a second time because it was such a crowd-pleaser. When he first sent a text message, and the familiar iChat “bwoop” sound played, everyone laughed.

Was the purpose of those iPhone UI choices to make people feel good the very first time? Or were they just the result of fulfilled expectation? Maybe we didn’t knowingly expect the iChat sound to play on an iPhone, but when we heard it, it was pleasantly familiar.

The goal probably isn’t to elicit those reactions, but to make UI that users expect. Fulfilling the expectation brings delight.